Today's news carried the somewhat shocking announcement that Community's creator and showrunner Dan Harmon is being replaced (involuntarily). This, of course, has got a lot of people worried. Is Community going to become more conventional and less interesting as a result? It's also got some people excited: is Community going to become more conventional and more funny as a result?
Which turns us neatly to this week's question:
Does replacing the creator of a show with a new showrunner ever lead to a better show?
There have, of course, been numerous cases where shows have got rid of their creator/showrunners. Rubicon's creator stood down as showrunner during the first episode, because he couldn't work out how to turn the show into a series. Whether that made the show better or not, it's hard to say, but it certainly became different. The new series of Doctor Who also became different once showrunner (and in some senses creator) Russell T Davies was replaced by Steven Moffat – some say it became better while others worse.
So can anyone think of any shows that undeniably became better once their creator departed for different climes, or can we simply assume Community is doomed now?
There's been a lot of talk this season about AMC's Mad Men. The Playboy Club and Pan Am have both supposedly been trying to emulate the success of Mad Man by both being set in the 60s and allegedly glorifying sexism, racism, et al. The parallels are relatively few and often spurious but what people have latched onto in this 60s setting. Apparently, until Mad Men, period drama didn't happen on US TV so clearly anything period must owe a debt to Mad Men.
Now overlooking the quasi-period (e.g. Quantum Leap, New Amsterdam, Journeyman, That 70s Show, Life on Mars) as well as actually period (e.g. Glory Daze, Swingtown) is one thing. But to overlook the western? That's downright ridiculous.
The western was once the mainstay of US TV: Bonanza ran for 13 years, Gunsmoke ran for 20 years and there were countless others. Modern day TV networks also haven't forgotten the western: HBO had Deadwood while FX's Justified is essentially a western set in modern times; and even as I type, the development slates at various US networks are already filling up with a whole new batch of westerns, ready to be unleashed on us next September, including a remake of the classic TV western The Rifleman.
But now look. While everyone's been fixated on the 60s as the Mad Men USP, AMC - the home of Mad Men - is trying its hardest to cash in on the success of its own, currently absent show (as well as its first ever original mini-series, Broken Trail) with another period piece that relishes the mores and prejudices of a rapidly changing American society. Can you guess when it's set?
Ah, thank heavens for cable TV. Although network TV has been producing some perfectly acceptable dramas this fall season, the miss rate has been a lot higher than the hit rate. Cable, however, with the obvious exception of Starz, has a far better success rate.
You know what else? Thank heavens for Israeli TV. Although you could argue over the merits of The Ex-List and Traffic Light for a while, they were at least a cut above the normal fare, and Israeli TV has at least indisputably given us the basis for the surefire cracker that was In Treatment. Now Israeli show Prisoners of War has given us the basis for Homeland, starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis and adapted for US TV by former 24 producers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon.
Bearing more than a passing resemblance to AMC's Rubicon, the thankfully faster-paced Homeland sees obsessive CIA analyst Danes convinced that returning war hero and former prisoner of war Damian Lewis has in fact been turned and is really working for al Qaeda. All she's got to do is prove it, even though no one else believes her, not even her mentor, best friend and boss Mandy Patinkin. In fact, given she's on anti-psychotic drugs, there's a very good chance she actually is crazy. All the same, to prove her hunch is correct, Danes is going to do anything she has to - whether Lewis is innocent or not.
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This is a UK media blog with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
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"For most of us watching the telly of an evening is a way to wind down and relax, but for Rob Buckley it’s his blogging bread and butter. With reviews of cult classics and up and coming US and Brit television shows, The Medium is Not Enough is fast becoming essential reading for TV buffs, with over 50,000 hits a month."
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I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.